A Peptide Probe Enables Photoacoustic-Guided Imaging and Drug Delivery to Lung Tumors in K-rasLA2 Mutant Mice.


Department of Creative IT Engineering, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Gyeongbuk, Republic of Korea. [Email] [Email]


The lack of molecular targets and targeting probes remains a major drawback for targeted imaging and drug delivery in lung cancer. In this study, we exploited in vivo phage display to identify a novel targeting probe that homes to the tumor in a K-rasLA2 mutant mouse lung cancer model. Compared with other candidate peptides selected from 5 rounds of phage display, the CRQTKN peptide homed to tumor nodules in the lung of mutant mice at higher levels. Photoacoustic tomography of mutant mice detected lung tumors via tumor homing of the near-infrared fluorescence dye-labeled CRQTKN peptide. Ex vivo photoacoustic images of isolated organs further demonstrated tumor homing of the CRQTKN peptide, whereas minimal accumulation was observed in control organs, such as the liver. Compared with untargeted liposomes and doxorubicin, doxorubicin-loaded liposomes whose surface was modified with the CRQTKN peptide more efficiently delivered doxorubicin and reduced the number or size of tumor lesions in K-rasLA2 mutant mice. Analysis of hematologic parameters and liver and kidney function showed no significant systemic side effects by the treatments. Affinity-based identification was used to detect TNF receptor superfamily member 19L (TNFRSF19L), which was upregulated in lung tumors of mutant mice, as the receptor for the CRQTKN peptide. In conclusion, these results suggest that the CRQTKN peptide is a promising targeting probe for photoacoustic-guided detection and drug delivery to lung cancer, and acts by binding to TNFRSF19L. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings present a new tumor-targeting probe for photoacoustic-guided detection and drug delivery.

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